Michael Myers is back despite being beheaded in Halloween H20, after it turns out Laurie Strode accidentally decapitated a different guy in a Michael Myers mask. He is a master of disguise to be fair. Did you see Austin Powers?!
The Halloween franchise is a lesson in Hollywood cowardice. Every time it tries to do something different, the studios revert to tried-and-tested tedium. Halloween III‘s laudable bid to turn the saga into a Twilight Zoney anthology was swiftly abandoned for more mindless Michael monotony, while Halloween: Resurrection‘s efforts to update the series brought it to a swift and short-lived halt.
Directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II), Halloween 8 has plenty of problems. It limits Jamie Lee Curtis to a single scene and fails to replace her with anyone worth watching. But between the dry kills and impotent villain is a genuine attempt to make the moribund property relevant to the email-savvy people of 2002. Resurrection sees a group of students sign up for an internet reality show called Dangertainment, where they have to spend a night in the old Myers murder house.
This proves a clever way to tap into the MTV zeitgeist, revisit iconic settings from the original and shoehorn in found footage-type elements before it was completely overdone. There is even something prescient about Dangertainment‘s celebrification of serial killers (and having Tyra Banks play a reality TV producer a year before America’s Next Top Model). The show’s opportunism and audience’s voyeurism seem surprisingly lucid in the current craze for True Crime. It does nothing all that interesting with those themes but has more to say on the subject than the Blumhouse offerings 20 years later (or should that be H20?).
For every glimpse of modernity there are twice as many signs of age, particularly when the climax involves characters instant messaging each other Michael’s location from their computers. That said, the messages appear as each individual letter is typed; then a sci-fi concept, now recognisable from shared Google Docs. The biggest throwback is the blank-slate final girl (Bianca Kajlich) in constant need of rescue by Buster Rhymes’ character (told you it was 2002) and an infatuated computer nerd (Ryan Merriman). Like a pervert on social media, it sends all sorts of bad messages.
What saves the sequel is a smart screenplay by Larry Brand and Sean Hood, who wrote a film called Cube2: Hypercube so you know you’re in safe hands. The script has greater characterisation, personality and humour than one expects from a Myers movie (either Mike or Michael), and actually feels more Scream-like than H20 which Scream scribe Kevin Williamson had a hand in writing. What other picture references Survivor and Peeping Tom in such close succession?
That the third-best Halloween flick (after I and III) should be the one where Busta Rhymes plays a kung fu-fighting TV producer says more about the other instalments than it does Halloween: Resurrection. If you want to see its premise made scary, check out My Little Eye from the same year. Or the inexplicable rise of masked reality formats, H20.